Community Corner – Meet Brian
It is our pleasure to introduce you to Brian Simpson, a positive and active advocate for COPD Awareness. Brian is a Respiratory Therapist residing in Pennsylvania, and he knew he always wanted to work in the medical field. Throughout his life he has dealt with asthma and was diagnosed with severe asthma in his teenage years around the time he had his first respiratory arrest. He has been dealing with severe asthma for more than 40 years.
Brian was never a smoker and wasn't diagnosed with COPD until about three years ago, even though he was suffering from the same conditions as a COPD patient for a couple of decades. In 2001, due to his health condition, he was forced to quit working for two years. He was completely disabled and had to fully rely on oxygen.
Though he struggled with lung function, he never let that stop him from achieving amazing accomplishments. Brian made the decision to lose weight when his lungs were between 26-30% functioning, and in 9 months he lost 130 pounds! When he started exercising and lost the weight his lung function improved. Then, two years after quitting his job he started back working again. And, he not only received his Masters Degree, he also ran a total of 18 marathons with a lung function of 25% and ran a remarkable time of 4:51:44. And, two of those marathons were 13 days from each other!
Even with those successes, last year his lung function sadly went from about 25% to 14%. Fortunately, his employer has been very kind to allow him to work from home full-time while on a nebulizer. His pulmonologist recommended that he have a lung transplant, but according to their records he has been deemed not to do well post-surgery so he has not had the lung transplant.
Through his ups and downs he enjoys his friends within his running community, is a big Pittsburgh Pirates fan, and gets a lot of job satisfaction. Brian also loves animals, and has a 9-year-old English Springer Spaniel named Duke.
Words of Encouragement from Brian:
“Many people who have COPD have not been diagnosed, and those that have it do not generally look sick, so they wouldn't know they have it. Also, smoking is not the only way to develop COPD, (I have) never smoked and have been diagnosed. Never give up, the pulmonologist was surprised that I was working full time with my lung function. So, remember to stay positive, stay strong, and do not underestimate the power of pulmonary therapy. Many people do not want to follow the doctors’ orders because they do not want to get dependent on the machines, but the machines help you live independently. I believe that Respiratory Therapists are one of the most underutilized professionals in the medical field. And, many people could benefit from speaking to a pulmonologist.”
Thank you Brian for all that you do in spreading awareness about COPD. We commend you and are honored that we were able to speak with you.